If you’re facing a situation where practicality or family needs have steered you in the direction of a crossover SUV but you don’t want to go too ‘sensible’ fear not, as Ford is here.
In the new Puma ST, you can pootle around suburbia being Dr Jekyll to your heart’s content, comfortable in the knowledge that at a moment’s notice, you can drink the elixir, push that Sport button and release Mr Hyde.
While testing this car, I kept comparing it to the fantastic Ford Fiesta ST I tested two years ago; but that was the wrong thing to do. You can’t look at the Puma ST through the same lens as you do a hot hatchback.
The Fiesta ST handles like it’s on rails, whereas the Puma ST has a little bit more body roll in the bends. The Fiesta ST is trying to break your spine whenever it drives over a pothole, whereas the Puma ST takes them in its stride. So trust me and don’t compare this car to a hot hatchback, because it’s not; it’s a hot crossover, and that’s a different animal.
The Puma ST comes with a 1.5 litre EcoBoost (turbocharged) 200hp petrol engine with a six-speed manual gearbox getting a respectable 6.0l/100km. It’s a front-wheel drive car, but there wasn’t a whisper of understeer while driving it. The test car came with a mechanical limited slip differential to help in the bends.
This car is the first Ford performance SUV in Europe to feature a bespoke chassis, which is 40 per cent stiffer than the Fiesta ST to counter the higher centre of gravity. It also boasts force vectoring springs to support the Puma ST’s agility. The turbocharged 1.5 litre engine gets the Puma ST from 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds. In order
to deal with the power upgrades, the ST’s steering responses are 25 per cent faster and its brakes are 17 per cent larger than the standard Puma. I found second gear in this car to be a complete antichrist, so beware of it because it takes off like a bullet.
According to Ford’s Performance Manager for Europe, Stefan Muenzinger: “We believe that we have the best handling small SUV in its segment. It really does feel connected and has the true ST feel. It is a joy to drive.”
The Puma ST offers a number of modes:
Normal, Eco, Sport, and Track, each of which does exactly what you’d imagine.
The Track mode also has launch control, to shoot you off the line at Mondello. Of course, the styling has been upgraded from the average Puma, with more pronounced wheel arches, a Ford Performance-embossed splitter integrated into the front bumper, a large rear roof spoiler and a diffuser incorporated into the rear bumper. There are also the signature ST upper and lower grilles, which Ford claims are designed to deliver increased
engine cooling capability. There are a number of special colours available for the Puma ST, like Mean Green and Fantastic Red, not to mention there’s a gloss black finish for the roof, grille surrounds, side spears, door mirror caps, and rear roof spoiler as standard.
The interior is also festooned with ST bling, like the big heated Recaro racing seats, covered with grippy Miko dinamica material, Ford performance skid plates, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and an ST gear knob.
One of the cherries atop this wonderful, dual personality automobile is the nightclub standard sound system they’ve shoe-horned into it. Audiophiles among you will know that Bang and Olufsen are some of the
best in the business, whether you’re playing Beethoven or Biggie Smalls. As for family-positive perks, the Puma
ST offers a gigantic uncompromised loadspace of 456 litres, thanks in part to the MegaBox, which Ford claims will
comfortably accommodate two golf bags in an upright position.
According to Mr Muenzinger: “Real driving enthusiasts aren’t going to settle for less excitement just because life
demands a more ‘sensible’ car, so our number-one priority was that the Puma ST had to be as exhilarating and capable as every ST model, without sacrificing any of Puma’s practicality.”
The entry price for the normal Puma is €26,069, while the ST starts at €41,813. It’s a practical, fun car that will serve all your Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde needs and wants, from trips to the beach with the kids, to a barnstorming burn around Mondello Park
Ford Puma ST 1.5 litre Ford EcoBoost 200PS petrol Six-speed manual FWD< 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds CO2 emissions: 134g/km (NEDC) Band B2 Colour: Grey Matter Reg no: 211 D 20077
STANDARD FEATURES INCLUDE
19” magnetite machined alloy wheels Unique ST elements to front and rear body styling kit, including Ford performance embossed splitter Fixed LED signature headlamps Black painted contrast roof Dual chrome exhaust Red brake callipersST logo projection (from door mirrors)ST suspension Selectable driver modes – normal/eco /sport/track Engine sound enhancer Front parking sensors Ford key-free system (keyless entry)ST flat-bottomed steering wheel with metal grey stitching Recaro sport seats with ST logo finished in partial leather and Miko Dinamica Heated steering wheel Front heated seats Unique ST gear shift knob ST scuff plates ST front and rear mats Alloy sports pedals
ADDITIONAL OPTIONS ON THIS MODEL
ST performance pack: Mechanical limited slip differential (LSD), launch control, performance shift light, and shift indicator – €1,172 Driver assistance pack: AEB by radar/camera, BLIS with CTA and active braking, intelligent adaptive cruise control with evasive steering with manual transmission Stop and go include traffic jam assist (automatic only), active park assist, front parking sensors, rear-view camera – €1,456 Entry price for new Ford Puma ST from €41,813 Entry price for Ford Puma from €26,069